That $258 million Macau casino heist is starting to wallop the entire gambling industry

The biggest players in the global casino industry are starting to feel the painful fallout resulting from a $US258 million casino heist earlier this month at Wynn Macau.

On Wednesday, sector heavyweights MGM, Wynn Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown Entertainment, and SJM Holdings were all down between 2% and 6% after trading ended in Hong Kong.

The carnage continued into the US market open.

In a note out Wednesday, Deutsche Bank said that the decline is the result of the disappearance of $US258 million from junket Dore Holdings operating within Wynn Macau, according to Bloomberg’s Lisa Pham.

The pool of money junkets use come from investors who, for years, have expected returns of 1%-2% from the proceeds of high roller winnings.

Wynn said that Dore did not owe the casino any money, so it isn’t suffering individually.

The problem, instead, is that the entire junket system has less cash in general, so they are now giving high rollers less money to play. That means less money for everyone. Investors are redeeming their cash.

“Gross gaming revenue fell 19% to 493 million patacas ($US62 million) a day last week, or 18% below the average so far this quarter,” Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang said in the note.

High rollers were already playing with less. Back in the spring of 2014, $US1.4 billion vanished from a Macau casino. That year 16% of all the junkets on Macau closed.

“As a whole, the junket segment never recovered from this liquidity squeeze,” investment bank Daiwa said in a note earlier this month reporting the heist.

This is the last thing Macau needed. Monthly gaming revenues have been down 30% to 50% from the same time a year before. President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is scaring mainland gamblers away from the island, especially the ones with money to burn.

Before we know it, the entire industry could change.

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